Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
What Causes It?Pulmonary fibrosis (scarring within the lung tissue) is caused by a number of conditions or factors. Medical conditions that cause pulmonary fibrosis are categorized as interstitial lung diseases. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a type of interstitial lung disease. However, unlike other conditions, where the cause of fibrosis is known, in the case of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the cause is not known. In fact, the medical term "idiopathic" means "unknown."
However, certain things seem to increase the risk for developing IPF. These IPF risk factors include:
- Cigarette smoking
- Certain viral infections
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
- Certain medicines
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
(Click Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes to learn more about each of these risk factors.)
Symptoms of IPFThe most common symptoms of IPF are shortness of breath and a dry, hacking cough that does not go away. Other symptoms that a person may develop over time include:
- Gradual, unintended weight loss
- Fatigue (tiredness) or malaise (a general ill feeling)
- Aching muscles and joints
- Enlargement of the fingers or toes, which is called clubbing.
As the condition worsens, a person may develop other potentially life-threatening conditions, including:
(Click Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Symptoms to learn more about the symptoms of IPF.)